Leroy Hoard OTL Feature [Video]

Simply stunning.

You get the feeling, watching this, that Leroy's story is one that is very similar to countless other former pro and college football players all around the country. With a growing emphasis on avoiding head trauma in today's game, it's also apparent that there's so much we don't know about the lasting impacts of head trauma related to football.

In some way, it would be nice to see Michigan reach out to Leroy somehow, and help increase the awareness of his, and many others who's situations are probably very similar.

Keep fighting Leroy.

Recruitaholics: If You Ain't First, You're Last

This Week: Feels Good to Be/Have #1, '14 QB Update, Visit Time!!!!, More Offers Go Out, Highlights Y'all, and coming back from a small vacation, Sayonara Suckas

National Signing Day is just a little over a week away and unless we see a surprise out of left field or a late flip, Michigan seems all but irrelevant when it comes creating news on NSD.  More details of Michigan's (possible) final commit of '13 and why the last remaining target in this class is no longer an option.

Feels Good to Be/Have #1

I know my focus is football recruiting, but gotta start this off with a shout out Trey Burke and company for taking over the #1 spot in the AP over the weekend.  Kids are straight ballin' on the hardwood!
Embedded image permalink
Green finally throwin' up the M, rockin' a snazzy suit.  Image via here

But the biggest news of the football recruiting season came over the weekend as well when, also #1, RB Derrick Green chose to play for Coach Hoke and the Wolverines over Auburn and Tennessee. 
 Details Incoming...or enjoy the visual experience!

Green looks to make a significant impact next year.  It's been a tough road to get here, but 50 less pounds later, his goal has been reached and so much more reports Sam Webb:
""I came in my freshman year of high school, I was 268 pounds," remembered Green. "I just did a whole 360 going into that summer (and) going into my sophomore year. I had to stop eating fried foods. I started eating a lot of grilled meat, salads, drinking a lot of water, and staying away from candy and soda."
He also began exhibiting the kind of work ethic necessary to achieve a physical metamorphosis. With guidance from his trainer he shed nearly 50 pounds and revealed himself to be a running back that a BCS power like Michigan would recruit. The Wolverines officially joined the party with an offer last February."
Just an unbelievable transformation for a young kid, but this explains why he can carry his 220 lb. frame the way he does.  Kid will be special, there's not doubt.  Having the support of with his Mom, Dad, 7 year old brother, and 16 yr. old cousin, who are also making the move to AA, will do wonders in his development.  Sam Webb also says Green plans to make a trip to up to AA once a month until he enrolls in the summer.

Scroll below to see why I'm not even bringing up the concern of RB Deveon Smith de-committing and enrolling elsewhere.

'14 QB Update

Some positive tweets in regards to Michigan have been aplenty from highly rated QB David Cornwell.  Cornwell has been said to be the #1 option at the QB position for Hoke and co. and he took in Michigan's campus this past week.  An offer wasn't extended and that is a surprise to most.  These tweets though, do not come as much of a surprise (his background photo is the Big House);  Cornwell has plenty of interest in Michgan and if offered, will be in the top of his list:

Visit Time!!!!

In-Home (School)
-'13 commit QB Shane Morris
-'13 commit DB Jourdan Lewis
-'13 commit RB Deveon Smith visited by coaching staff once last Thurs. and later tonight - tweeted this to FB commit Wyatt Shallman and most recent commit Derrick Green:
I'd say he's staying put and ready to be part of the best backfield in the country, wouldn't you??

-'14 DB Parrker Westphal - has offer, top priority at the DB position
-'14 OL Jamarco Jones - offered
-'14 DL Malik McDowell - offered - could be in discussion for top prospect in '14 class
-'14 DE Lawrence Marshall - has offer, also attended bball game vs. Purdue  - his jr. highlights :

-'14 RB Jonathon Hilliman - has offer - Reaction:
-'14 TE Daniel Helm - has offer - similar play and build of Jake Butt
-'14 RB Elijah Hood - offered - Michigan didn't make his early top 5 
-'14 DL Enoch Smith Jr. - no offer
-'14 WR Dominique Booth -  no offer- Michigan made his most recent top 7 list
-'14 WR Autsin Roberts - no offer
-'14 WR/DB Timothy Cason II - no offer
-'14 OLB Brandon Lee - no offer
-'14 RB Mikale Wilbon - no offer 
-'14 DE Dwayne Hendricks - Great size at 6'5" 230. Had 60 tackles and 4 sacks last year.  No offer
-'14 QB Chris Durkin - no offer
-'14 OLB DJ Calhoun - no offer 
-'14 QB Shelby Spence - no offer
-'15 RB Damien Harris - first offer of '15, loves Michigan 

More Offers Go Out

The first recipient...'14 S Erick Smith out of Glenville HS (OH).  Has a impressive offer list with the size Hoke has been interested in for the DB position.  See for yourself below:

And the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th...A trio of in-staters: Cass Tech '15 RB Mike Weber, teammate DE Josh Alabi and '15 ATH Brian Cole out of Saginaw (MI). They are offers 3, 4, and 5 in the '15 class.  Weber is a small, quick, with surprising power; Alibi has the perfect stature to strive at the DE position, and being 6'2, Cole has the size to play on either side of the ball at WR, CB, or S. 

Highlights Y'all 

'13 commit LB Mike McCray - Sr. highlights

'14 RB LJ Scott - Jr. Highlights - Big build on a small frame, decent speed. No offer.  Told Josh Helmholdt, "I don't know what it is about the whole Michigan atmosphere, but I fell in love with it!"

Sayonara Suckas

Welp, looks like the door is closed on the 2013 class.  Michigan's last remaining target TE Durham Smythe committed to Notre Dame yesterday while on an official visit.  Remember last week (trivia alert!!), when he decided to move his OV to AA back a few weeks?  I know you all recall, your the best fans out there!! Anyways turns out he will not be making that visit anymore.  One has to think he had already planned to commit this weekend while in South Bend which would clarify the re-scheduling. 

Look at the Latest Basketball AP Poll

Just look at it!

Derrick Green Hat Presentation [Video]

I know @dwinslow09 handles recruiting coverage 'round these parts, but hey, it's not everyday that the #1 running back prospect in the nation picks your school. Let us bask in the glow just a bit longer with this video of yesterday's hat presentation...a ceremonial rite of passage for any big-time recruit.

Local news reaction...

UPDATE: Photos compiled by Daniel Winslow (@dwinslow09) taken by @SamWebb77 and @rivalsfriedman...

For the rest of the details, click over to our incoming post from yesterday.

Incoming: Derrick Green

A few weeks ago I sat down and started to prepare an Incoming post welcoming Derrick Green to Team 134.  I then remembered that nothing has been going my way as of late and quite frankly, I just didn't want jinx it.  I've always been so superstitious, and once again it paid off! YAHTZEE!!!!

 Commit #27
Image via here

Meet Derrick Green
Scout: 5-star, #1 RB, #6 OVR
ESPN: 4-star, #5 RB, #38 OVR
247Sports: 5-star, #4 RB, #26 OVR
Rivals: 5-star, #1 RB, #8 OVR
MGoHello #2

Ahhhh...we can all finally let out that sigh of relief, that's been building up for a few weeks now.  Today at 4 PM, the #1 RB, let me repeat that in case you didn't hear it right the first time, THE #1 RB has committed to play at The University of Michigan, guaranteeing a top 5 class for 2013 on all sites (#1 on Scout by far), across the board.  Green could be argued to be in the top 5 recruits of all time to pledge to the Wolverines...that's B1G!!

Looking at Green's rankings, you can tell he is special.  What makes him even more special?  His measurements.  He is a consensus 6' 220 lbs (Scout has him at 5'11", ESPN says 215) of solid muscle with blazing speed, clocking in at 4.4.  Green is more than ready to play at the next level and is the perfect RB to fit Hoke plan to transform to a downhill, power running game.  I mean look at the kid...he's HUYGE!!
Image via here
Michigan was Green's leader for most of his recruitment and I think getting OL David Dawson back on board really pushed his interest to the next level.  The two have had a great rapport, talking on a regular basis.  I mean Green trusted him enough to do this:

Crazy to think Green's known for almost 3 months where he was going to play at the next level.  But reading reactions of analysts and from Green himself, Michigan was always the place for him.  Dave Hooker of ESPN let's Green tell us why:
"The bond with the Wolverine coaches was significant. Just the history behind the program and their traditions," said Green at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl earlier this year. "[Running backs] Coach [Fred] Jackson, Coach [Brady] Hoke is a great coach. He's the best coach I've met so far."
 "I see myself, if I go to Michigan, starting right away," Green had said in the past.
And from @SupportBradyHoke herself:
Playing time and a power offense were the biggest factors here; Michigan had both to offer and Green couldn't pass up the chance to seize the opportunity to become a part of the special group of young men in Michigan's '13 class.  I mean heck, JC Shurburtt at 247Sports said Derrick Green told him that Brady Hoke started crying when he told him he was going blue.  Gotta love Hoke's passion for Michigan Football; it's his #1 recruiting trait and the results are showing up.

Other Offers
Ummm...I don't think you want me to list all 10,000 offers Green held; how about this...just name the top 4 or 5 teams from each major conference (ACC, B1G, SEC, Big 12, Big East) and Green could've played for any of 'em.  GO!

Hype Video
His combination of speed and power is surreal, and may be illegal in a few states....well, at least team's facing Green in the future will wish it were:

Something Scary to Think About
Well let's see what I can get through before my mind explodes of excitement:  I think we all may have forgotten about a commit who has a similar bruising running style in DeVeon Smith.  These two guys could turn into a Todd Gurley/Keith Marshall type of back field. No one will want to face this tandem.  And don't forget who this tandem will be running behind in the future.  Six OL commits in this class (Fox, Bosch, Tuley-Tillman, Dawson, Kugler, Samuelson) and four from last year's class (Magnuson, Kalis, Braden, Bars), all 4-5 star recruits.  That's not gunna suck...Not to mention with Taylor Lewan coming back next year, Green and Smith will have no problem finding holes to run through next year or in the future. Lastly, we have two DG's now in the backfield (Devin Gardner), so that's cool and has to mean something good right?! I sure think so.

2013 Look Ahead: The Offense

Previous on the 2013 Look Ahead: The Schedule

The minute this guy decided to return, Team 134's prospects looked increasingly brighter.
Michigan's offense was bad in 2012. The idea that you can run a shifty receiver at quarterback and be consistently successful is just not going to happen. Good teams had sniffed out Denard's tricks pretty well by his senior year. And by the time he went down with a nerve injury against Nebraska, the ship had sailed on Shoelace as a passer.

Despite that, Michigan's offense still managed to have brief spurts of brilliance, I mean Denard is still Denard. But all too often, those brilliant moments were followed by extended streaks of frustration. So with Denard Robinson, the central figure of Team 131, 132 and 133's offensive attack graduating to the NFL, how does Michigan retool, and take that step forward in 2013?

Who's leaving, who's staying and who's coming in? And what's the depth chart going to look like?

Hit the break to find out.

Recruitaholics: Get a Degree!

This Week's Dose:  Brady Hoke On Recruiting, A New Member of Team 134, A Couple Surprises, Visits and Visitors, The Highlights Never Stop, and a few Last Remarks.

Brady Hoke On Recruiting

Saw this little nugget from the Coaches Banquet that occurred last week and I just couldn't pass up including it in this week's update.  We've never really seen how Coach Hoke recruits or what he says to sell kids on the program.  Below we get a little glimpse of what Brady sells to recruits and my is it a powerful message...

A New Member of Team 134
Image via here
On Friday, K JJ McGrath decided to attend Michigan, accepting a preferred walk-on offer.  He's got a big frame at 6'2" 215 and comes from in-state Lutheran North HS.  There are no ratings on the major sites, but make no mistake...JJ is one of the top kickers in the country and possesses a big, powerful leg; He kicked a 57 yarder during his season in live game action.  For those who don't know, that's only 6 yards off the NFL record so yes, the kid can boot it a long way.  More from his coach on this matter via Maizenbrew.com:
“He’s got three of the longest field goals in Michigan history,” noted Wesley. “He’s the only one that’s on that list more than once. He’s got a 52-yarder, a 54-yarder and a 57-yarder. The 57-yarder was in the fourth quarter to win the game against Yale this past year. It could have been good from a good deal further, but 57 was all we needed."
And some evidence of McGrath's powerful leg that his coach and I mentioned:

This is a huge pickup that locks up a bright future for the kicking game (along with Matt Wile), that we all know is important after seeing the kicking woes that Michigan experienced under ex-headman Rich Rodriguez (sorry to bring that era up).  My favorite part of the whole thing...McGrath grew up (and still was) a big Spartan fan, so stealing another in-state prospect from "Little Brother" always gives me a warm tingly feeling inside (I won't elaborate any further than that, don't worry).

A Couple Surprises

I mentioned last week that the top prospect of the '14 class, DL Da'Shawn Hand, narrowed his list down to five and our Wolverines were among that group.  A new development has risen this week, and it's something we all can be excited about.  Dave Hooker of ESPN.com caught up with Hand ($) after his recent visit to Maryland.  Hand also talked about his leaders as of right now and who he is impressed with.  And guess who Hand chose as his favorite coaching staff...yup, you guessed it, (you guys/gals get smarter every week!) Hoke and co take the cake.  Lot's of positive feedback regarding Michigan and their chances in landing Hand, which says a whole heck of a lot since he's never even seen AA before.  Get him on campus, and I believe Michigan's chances will increase dramatically. 

A recent development has come about in regards to a talented '13 TE out of TX.  Durham Smythe is a big target (6'5" 235) who committed to Mack Brown at Texas in early March.  But about a month ago, he re-opened his recruitment and named a top 3 of Stanford, Michigan, and ND (Surprise, surprise).  I for one hadn't heard much of the kid, but he is a 4-star across the board and would be a great addition to the already stellar '13 class.  He had a visit setup for this coming weekend, but had to reschedule to Feb. 1st ($) according to 247Sport's Clint Brewster.  Hopefully he just wanted to save the best for last...or he needed more time to prepare for this:

Visits and Visitors (and new offers)

-New OL commit Dan Samuelson
-Commit DT Maurice Hurst Jr.
-Commit DB Channing Stribling - also visited 3 teammates; Butler (NC) is always a national powerhouse year in and year out.  
-'14 OL Tommy Doles - offered - making his 5th visit in six months; a commitment wouldn't surprise me this weekend.
-'14 ATH Jabril Peppers - offered
-'14 WR Drake Harris - offered - recently re-opened his recruiting while staying committed to MSU.  He seems to be looking more into football and not pursuing basketball in college. Could def. help Michigan's chances.  Junior season highlights
-'14 DB Parrker Westphal - offered
-'14 OL Jamarco Jones - has offer
-'14 DT Malik McDowell - has offer
-'14 RB Joe Mixon - has offer - jr. highlights below

-'14 DB Nick Watkins - offered
-'14 RB/LB Elijah Hood - offered
-'14 QB Travis Smith
-'14 ATH Kalen Ballage
-'14 DE Vontae Diggs
-'14 LB Dorian Hendrix
-'14 LB Nile Sykes

-New offer has gone out to '14 TE Daniel Helm.  He is an under the radar prospect, but has great size (6'5" 220) and could blow up with a good senior campaign. 

-'14 LB Kyle Berger also received an offer during a visit from the coaching staff last week.  Berger play's at St. Ignatius (OH), the former HS of Jake Ryan.

The Highlights Never Stop

'14 S Quinn Blanding - junior season highlights - 5-star and has offer

'14 WR Corey Holmes - junior season highlights - has offer

Last Remarks

Scout's Greg Biggins reported that Michigan coaches have informed OL Cameron Hunt that they are indeed finished recruiting offensive lineman for the '13 class.  

The Rivals staff has been working for a week now, and has released it's final Rivals100 for the '13 classDL Henri Poggi took over as the top recruit for Michigan's '13 class climbing to the #70, surpassing QB Shane Morris, who dropped to #81, losing his 5th star.  Right behind Morris at #82, is OL Patrick Kugler.  And RB Derrick Green solidified his spot as the #1 back in the country.  He's certainly excited about it, as he should be:
Everyone don't forget about the big announcement coming up on Saturday when Derrick Green, Scout.com's #1 running back in the country, (I swear without thinking I wrote commits to Michigan...a sign to come?!) decides between Michigan, Auburn, and Tennessee.  Michigan has a great shot here and he will really complete this class. Cheers to good news come Saturday!

Incoming: Reon Dawson

Man, I love this time of year!!

Commit #26

Image via here

Meet Reon Dawson
Scout: 3-star, #64 CB
ESPN: 3-star, #41 CB
247Sports: 3-star, #82 CB
Rivals: 3-star, #53 In-state

The visit over the weekend must have done wonders for the young man.  As of last week, Dawson, teammate of current commit LB Mike McCray, had been committed to the Fighting Illini since last May before making the trip to AA.  Reports stated that he enjoyed his time on campus and now we have proof that it was a game changerSimilar to Michigan's last commit, OL Dan Samuelson, Dawson also couldn't hold back his excitement and committed a few days earlier than his intended decision date of Wednesday, Jan. 14th, reported first by Scout's Bill Green.  And from Dawson himself:
As shown above, sites all agree with his ranking, slating him as a 3-star recruit.  Rivals doesn't even have a position ranking on him (interesting to say the least) while ESPN has him rated the highest. His measurements of 6'2" 175 seem to be the consensus across the board, save ESPN who lists him at 6'1".  The most important stat to look at is his 4.4 speed that all sites report with 247Sports listing him at 4.39.  Kid has blazing speed and the trend of recruiting long, tall, quick DB's continues, which I have to say I love to see.  Welcome aboard young fella!

A couple tidbits about his game - First, Scout's Ryan Easterling gives us an idea of what Dawson brings to the table:
"Dawson is a scrappy player who attacks the ball. He uses his length to blanket receivers and has the foot speed to not only stay with his man, but also recover...Dawson may even have an opportunity to take some snaps as a receiver if he can prove himself as a consistent pass-catcher. One positive is that he is already in the habit of reading the quarterback’s eyes and locating the ball as soon as it’s thrown."
 Also from Scout, Dave Berk gives his two cents:

Other Offers
Dawson had scholarship offers from Illinois, Penn St., Purdue, Arizona, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Indiana, Kentucky and a few MAC schools.

Hype Video
Could only find his junior year highlights, which are still very impressive if I must say:

Something Scary to Think About
Imagine your a receiver and your watching film getting ready to face Michigan (2-3 years down the road).  Your eyes are focused on a 6'2" DB in Dawson on one side, a 6'2" DB in Stribling on the other side, a 6'0" nickel in Lewis, a 6'1" FS in Thomas, and a 6'1" SS in Hill.  Yeah...I'd say scary is an understatement; Petrified may be a better word to use.  The future defensive backfield is something that we all can agree will be fun to watch.

Recruitaholics: Coming Down to the Wire

This Week's Dose: The Decision We've All Been Waiting For, Big Visit Week, A Big Offer, Another Highlight, and a shocking version of Sayonara Suckas

The Decision We've All Been Waiting For

'13 RB Derrick Green has been the hottest commodity for the Wolverines coaches as we near National Signing Day.  And the day we've all been waiting for is only a few week away.  Green announced Saturday on Twitter the day he will decide:
Green is hosting Hoke today for a final in-home visit and one last shot to pitch AA to the #1 running back of the '13 class.  Green also narrowed his list to a final 3 of Michigan, Auburn, and Tennessee.  Seeing this, I have to believe he will commit to Hoke and co. on the 26th after he cancelled a visit to AU last week and unless TN blew him away in their in-home visit over the weekend, all signs point to him choosing the Maize N Blue.

Big Visit Week

'13 OL Cameron Hunt, as I touched on in last night's Dan Samuelson Incoming post, was on campus this weekend visiting AA for the first time.  Hunt is a Cal commit, but is making rounds to OSU (currently) with Oregon and Cal coming up.  Greg Biggins gives us a reaction from Hunt:
With the staff stating that a possible 7 OL may be taken in this class, it doesn't seem that Hunt is scared of the competition he may face if he does pledge to Michigan.  From the looks of it, the possibility of him ending up blue are strong and wouldn't be a surprise if he did become a member of team 134.

'13 OH DB Reon Dawson is currently committed to Illinois, but was also on campus this weekend seeing what AA has to offer.  Michigan impressed Dawson and definitely made up for lost time with him and looks to be announcing on Wednesday between UM and ILL according to ESPN's Jared Shanker.  This one could be a tossup, but I see him joining fellow commit and teammate Mike McCray in a few days (my downfall is life has always been my optimism).

'13 MI K J.J. McGrath met with Coach Hoke and Ferigno on Friday.  McGrath will make a decision sometime this week with Michigan in good standing.  He doesn't have a scholarship offer but does have a preferred walk-on offer.  McGrath has a big leg and would be a good successor to Gibbons and Wile.

'14 OL Sam Mustipher of Good Counsel (MD), former school of Blake Countess, was visited by the UM coaches today.  Mustipher is high on Michigan and the feeling is mutual from the coaching staff.

Hoke and co. were also out to visit '14 DE DeShawn Hand, who will more than likely be the top prospect in the '14 class.  Hand also released a top 5 this week of 'Bama, Michigan, UNC, South Carolina, and Va. Tech.  Hearing this news, I wasn't surprised to see the staff make an appearance at his school in VA to sway him to go blue.  Pulling Hand in has got to be at the top of the priority list for the Michigan staff regarding the '14 class and there is no doubt as to why.  Here's Mike Farrell's take on where each school ranks in his eyes for Hand:

The fact that Michigan has even made his top 5 without a visit says a lot about his interest.

Detroit Country Day (MI) will also receive a visit from the staff this week, mainly to talk to ATH Jalen Embry and LB Carl Fuller according to their coach.

A Big Offer

'14 GA WR Demarre Kitt will be one of the top WR's in the '14 class.  He already holds offers from a lot of big time D1 schools and Michigan has joined in on the party.  Take a look for yourself, kid has lots of talent and big play ability:

Another Highlight

This one features '14 S/WR Nick Watkins (TX) in his junior season.  He does hold an offer.

Sayonara Suckas

In some shocking news yesterday, Cass Tech '14 DB Damon Webb committed to OSU.  Webb was being recruited hard by the Michigan coaching staff and seemed to have a lot of interest.  Still a long way to go, but it's not looking good in terms of flipping him before next years signing day.  Also makes you sick to your stomach to think that Urban Meyer has invaded Michigan, and more importantly put a roadblock in Michigan #1 pipeline school.

Incoming: Dan Samuelson

I was holding out til today to do an Incoming: post hoping that maybe another visitor this weekend (OL Cameron Hunt) would join team 134 as well since we all know my love for joint commitment post. I thought I had them convinced!! Guess not.                                                          

Commit #25

Image via here

Meet Dan Samuelson
Scout: 4-star, #25 OL
ESPN: 3-star, #87 OL
247Sports: 3-star, #17 OL
Rivals: 3-star, #31 OL

Hearing this news yesterday came as a surprise; not because of the commitment, but because of who committed.  A couple OL were on officials over the weekend in Samuelson and Cameron Hunt, who were accompanied by current commit Patick Kugler.  Samuelson had stated last week that a decision would be made on Monday between Nebraska and Michigan.  So hearing this news (Thanks Brad), I could've sworn it would've been Hunt who pulled the trigger.  Anyways, I was wrong and Samuelson pledged a few days early, and he will be welcomed with open arms either way.

At a glance, Samuelson is a 3-star recruit save Scout's 4-star ranking.  247Sports ranks him the highest at his position out of all the sites at #17; interesting because they have him as a 3-star which doesn't really make much sense, but that's recruiting for ya.  All sites agree on his 6'5" stature while his weight fluctuates from 275-295 depending on where you look.  So I guess we'll split the difference and go with 285.  

Not much (free) analysis is out there about Samuelson's game, but Clint Brewster did shine a little bit of light regarding his playing style and strengths:
"Samuelson has a great frame at 6-foot-5, 290-pounds and doesn’t look to carry a lot of extra weight, allowing him to move well on pulls and screens. Samuelson does a nice job firing off the football and striking his opponent first when run blocking. He is able to turn opposing defensive lineman, showing good overall strength, particularly in his upper body. Samuelson shows proper hand placement and a good initial punch. He does an excellent job of staying engaged with defensive lineman once he has them, and finishes blocks off. As he shows in his highlight film, Samuelson has the ability to drive defenders into the ground and completely eliminate them from the play. Samuelson’s strengths correlate well to the run game and he should be a good fit at the guard position, as Michigan looks to move towards a heavier run game in the future."
I agree with the final statement Brewster makes above about him being a guard in the future.  Depending on how much weight he puts on, which could be none if the coaches want him playing guard, he will fit much better on the interior line at his current frame.  Here's a little reaction from Samuelson himself:

Other Offers
Held offers from Nebraska, Illinois, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, Bowling Green, Miami (OH), WMU, and Wyoming.

Hype Video
Couldn't find an embedable (did I just make a new word?) video, but did find his senior season highlight on Hudl.com.

Something Scary to Think About
Samuelson joins a group of 6 OL(!!!) commits in the 2013 class, 1 5-star (Kugler) and four 4-stars (Dawson, Bosch, Fox, Tuley-Tillman) and the staff has stated that taking seven OL is a possibility.  If Michigan can add Cameron Hunt, this O-line (w/or w/o Hunt) has potential to be one of the nastiest in the county once they all hit the field in a few years.  I just hope Derrick Green is taking notice!  How could you not want to run behind this wall that Hoke and co. have assembled?!

Taylor Lewan to Return for his Senior Year

Just announced...

Junior Michigan offensive linemen Taylor Lewan has announced that he will pursue his NFL career in 2014. He will return to Michigan for his senior year! What a huge lift for #Team134. This is big. So proud of the big man.

Update: Video!

More on what the impact of this decision will have later. For now, here's a gallery of Lewan photos I've compiled from over the years.

Related Content:
#77, All-American

2013 Look Ahead: The Schedule

The Go Blue banner will be a very welcome sight in 2013.
Last year, when we did our look ahead, the 2012 schedule seemed daunting, but somehow manageable compared to how it eventually played out. We knew it would be a grind with so many tough road games...but 2012 was simply a brutal schedule. Brutal because, like 2011, this Michigan team was not ready to compete against superior talent in hostile environments. Not yet.

All 5 losses took place away from the Big House, against top 10 teams (sans Nebraska) in high-profile, very visible, often primetime games. It illustrated the fact that, despite an 11-2 season in 2011, Michigan was not "back" yet. Being "back" means that you win most of those tough road games.

When it was all said and done, the combined record of teams that beat Michigan was 57-6. That said, the combined record of teams Michigan beat was 42-59. That's not "back".

A year ago at this time, we had no idea that Notre Dame would go undefeated and play for a national championship. We had no idea Nebraska would make it to the Big Ten title game. We knew Ohio State would have to spend New Years at home while the rest of us got to enjoy the post-season, but we had no idea they would be 12-0 while they did it.

And of course, Alabama was just as good as advertised.

Team 133 had maybe one of the toughest schedules in the country. Thankfully, mercifully, 2012 is so over. Team 134 will still be playing a respectably difficult schedule, but it's much more manageable with more big games at home, and a not starting the season against an NFL squad.

Hit the break to dive in.

Recruitaholics: Still Recovering From the Dead Period

This Week: Michigan Commits Perform in All American Games, 2014 Commit Visits Florida, Michigan Makes The Cut, and unfortunately (for the first time) Sayonara Suckas

Recruitaholics, if feels so good to be baaaaaack!  Over the break I spent a lot of time eating and doing absolutely nothing, which are always favorite hobbies of mine, visited New Orleans for a 4 day drunk fest watching my hometown Cardinals dominate the hated Gators, which I'm sure you all can relate to if you made the trip last year to see Michigan become Sugar Bowl Champions...still don't want to talk about this years bowl, my voice has just now come back from screaming at the TV, and best of all, re-upped on some sick Michigan gear, my favorite part of the Christmas season year in and year out.  And now it's crunch-time in the recruiting world and I couldn't be more excited...I'm sure the feeling is mutual.   

Michigan Commits Perform in All American Games

Commits Poggi, McCray, Morris, Dawson, Tuley-Tillman, and Kugler. Image via here

A lot of hype led up to the All-American games that occurred over the weekend.  Included in the hype were 12 current Michigan commits, three of which didn't participate due to injuries (OL Chris Fox, TE Jake Butt, and LB Mike McCray) and a few top prospects with major interest in the Wolverines, including a few names of old and new. Here's a breakdown of each player's performance:

S Dymonte Thomas:  How many people knew I would talk about him first?  Well there actually is reason behind it.  Thomas was the most impressive of the four Wolverine pledges at the Army Game tallying two tackles (which was only two behind the leading tackler) and was excellent in coverage during the game. Tim Sullivan breaks down his performance and what Coach Mattison had to say after watching Dymonte in action along with the video below:

DB Jourdan Lewis was another commit who impressed during practice and in action on Saturday.  He was praised for his coverage skills and physicality especially on receivers much taller than him like Ricky Seals-Jones (6'5").  Here's an example:
Image via here
 He was the only player mentioned by JC Shurburtt that is ranked to low by 247:
The Michigan commit isn’t 6-foot-1, but he’s 5-foot-11 and battled hard in practice this week, earning praise from the coaches and analysts. Wiltfong in particular was impressed with how he battled against the massive Aggies receivers commits like Griffin and Ricky Seals-Jones.
The performances by these two DB's mentioned above has got to excite us Maize n Blue Nation for what the future holds.   

RB Derrick Green was named captain of the East Squad after dominating the competition during the Army practices.  Watching him in action live for the first time, I was very impressed with his downhill running style and burst of speed once getting to the second level, especially for a guy weighing over 220.  His performance also earned him this:
I'd say Green more than lived up to his ranking and may have even improved it (if that's possible).  But the biggest news concerning Green over the weekend is a great sign pointing in the direction of Michigan.  Green told Rivals ($) after the Army game that he "knows where he's going" and with him deciding this month, gotta think Michigan is the school he will end up at in the end since they are his leader at the moment.  Then there was this as if we need anything more to convince us Michigan is in the driver seat:
Lewis, Thomas, Green, Fox, and Butt.  Image via here
All you need to know about this...Green insisted that he be a part of this picture.  'Nuff said.  O wait, I've got one more to tickle your fancy:
Thomas trying to convince Green to throw the "M" up.  Image via here
QB Shane Morris didn't have the greatest week on the field at the Under Armour Game.  He seemed a little rusty coming his illness that kept him out for most the season.  He got his fair share of snaps in the game although he didn't start, but didn't fare to well going 2-10 for 23 yards and 1 INT.  One thing we did learn though, Morris can definitely take a hit:

Which is ironic after listening to what he does after a big hit in this AUAAG interview:

Three of the current commits did crack the starting lineup for Friday's UA All-American Showdown.  OL Patrick Kugler and OL David Dawson were the two on offense occupying both guard spots for the White Team.  Which couldn't have been easy for one reason:  #1 prospect DE Robert Nkemdiche was lining up across from them.  But good news for our future...each one had a pancake against Nkemdiche and held up very well against tough competition.

A couple other offensive lineman who played well were OL Logan Tuley-Tillman and prospect OL Cameron Hunt.  Tuley-Tillman held his own at the tackle position, although he still needs a lot of work before he is ready to compete at the next level.  Hunt on the other hand, may be one of the more ready OL's in the class displaying excellent technique and smarts.  He will visit Michigan in the coming week's.  Check him and the rest of OL/DL commits in 1on1's here:

The only defensive starter was DL Henri Poggi, who was one of more impressive DL all week long, dominating in 1 on 1's and wreaking havoc in the Black Team's backfield all game long.  Poggi has a motor similar to the energizer bunny while possessing great quickness.  Once he gets to Michigan, he will more than likely see time as a freshman.  Poggi also formed a relationship with one of the top LB's in the class over the week...

LB Reuben Foster is a freak athlete standing 6'2" 240 and has sideline to sideline speed.  He is a 5-star across the board and arguably the top LB in the class.  The White Team MVP formed a friendship with the Poggi family, most notably Mr. Poggi and seems to have interest in making a visit to AA before signing day.  May be to late and chances are slim here, but getting anyone on campus gives this staff a chance to sway him away from the south;  Especially with a defensive coordinator in Mattison who coached Ray Lewis for a few years and Foster has a very similar playing style.  Injuries and work ethic are concerns, but no one in the country will turn Foster away. 

DL Maurice Hurst and DB Ross Douglas both traveled out to Cali to take part in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl.  Hurst battled the flu all week, but when he was on the field, he performed very well.  Check out both their highlights below:

WR Sebastion Larue is a name you may remember from a while back.  He had interest in the Wolverines before committing to USC in the summer.  But a new development came about after Larue de-commited from USC before traveling to Florida for the UAAAG.  He has indeed gotten back in touch with the coaching staff and...just read it yourself:
Nothing is set in stone yet, but I don't see why Larue wouldn't make the trip up to AA after having them high on his list before pledging to Lane Kiffin.

2014 Commit Visits Florida

OL Denzel Ward was in the news a lot over the weekend after performing well at the Under Armour Combine (his day here), but the news of him making a visit was the main commotion.  Ward, the 2nd commit of 2014, informed the coaches of his decision to visit elsewhere and no de-commitment has occurred yet so we will just have to see how this one plays out. Ward did say this about his commitment status:

Michigan Makes The Cut

A few names you may be familiar with in regards to the QB situation for the '14 class announced their top 5's and the Wolverines made both of their lists.  One being in-state signal caller Caleb Henderson.  This top 50 prospect (247 Sports) has all the tools to be a great fit for Michigan's new pro-style scheme and would be a great get.  His top 5 consisted of MSU, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, and Oregon reports Scout's Don Callahan ($). I don't see much of a threat from anyone but Little Brother, with Oregon and Ohio running a spread and UNC far away from home.

David Cornwell out of Oklahoma is the other to include the Wolverines in his top 5 along side Indiana, Alabama, Arkansas, and UCLA thanks to ESPN's Bob Przybylo.  Cornwell is also a top 50 prospect in '14 rated just a tad below Henderson.  I like Cornwell's highlight tape and upside better although others would disagree. He also had this to say about Maize and Blue Nation:
Neither QB has an offer yet and I'm not quite sure why the staff is holding off on offering a '14 QB.  Only logical reasoning: Shane Morris has a bright future and they want to make sure and offer the right guy and just focus on pulling him in.

A 5-star prospect who could end up being the top player in the '14 class also mentioned a top 5 over the break.  DB Jabril Peppers dominated both sides of the ball for Paramus Catholic (NJ) in his junior season where he was one of two juniors to be named an All-American.  His top 5: Stanford, Ohio, ND, Michigan, and LSU. 

Sayonara Suckas

Most of you saw it live, but 5-star S Leon McQuay announced his decision to attend USC during the 4th quarter of the UA game.  He chose the Trojans over Michigan and Florida St. 

O Rawls, Where Art Thou?

Rawls' 63-yard TD run against Illinois in garbage time this season, was his career long, by far.
Emailer Mike writes:
Brad, no one, and I mean no one has said a word about Rawls not playing. Not you, not any of the other blogs, not the papers, not the radio, not TV, NO ONE! What gives?
Well Mike, Thomas Rawls' absence from the Outback Bowl was not widely reported, and I agree it was something that went unnoticed by many, unless you were on Twitter in the second half. Unnoticed and unreported, because frankly, I doubt anyone figured he'd be much of a contributor.

But aside from just mentioning the fact that he didn't play, there's not much else I can tell you. A guy like Rawls, or Fitz for that matter, isn't going to garner a lot of yards behind an offensive line as awful as Michigan's. I think the coaches saw the need to get the ball into the hands of smaller, faster running backs in an effort to spread out defenses and get the ball in space...hence Vincent Smith and Shoelace.

Until Hoke and Funk can grow the young OL talent they have coming up through the system right now, a slow but steady march towards a more Michigan style running game can be expected. But this season, we just weren't there yet. 2013 should mark the beginning of that era.

Rawls has been rarely hit and mostly miss throughout his career so far. Never having eclipsed the century mark in yards in any of his 11 games over the last 2 years in which he's had carries, Thomas Rawls has been primarily a 3rd or 4th option behind Denard, Toussaint and/or Smith...with so-so results.

The running back position is wide open for 2013. With Fitz hopefully getting healthy again and guys like Justice Hayes, Drake Johnson, Wyatt Shallman, and possibly a yet-to-be-named 5-star recruit for the 2013 class, Rawls could face some stiff competition for touches down the road. A healthy Fitz seems like the front-runner right now, but of course spring ball is still 3 1/2 months away.

A Familiar Ending

Team 133 deserved better.
They deserved to be able to go out with a win against a superior team on the road. They had taken their lumps from the Alabamas, the Notre Dames, the Nebraskas and the Ohio States of the world. Even with a win yesterday, 2012 would've never been remembered as a successful year for Michigan, but an Outback Bowl victory over a favored SEC squad would've help assuage some of the bitterness of a season lost to superior opponents. But the college football Gods don't work that way.

As Brady Hoke said on his first day on the job in Ann Arbor, "Football is a tough man's game", and Michigan found that out yesterday for the 5th time this season. It's not that Michigan isn't a tough football team. They just played tougher teams who found ways to win. Michigan played the toughest teams in the land, and found out the hard way where they stand nationally compared to the best of the best.

When it's all said and done, Michigan's 5 losses this season will come from teams with a combined record of 57-6.

In the game of football, much as in life, you get what you deserve. Like when the refs clearly handed Michigan a first down it didn't earn, and then on the very next play, JaDeveon Clowney single-handedly took it back from Vincent Smith in the most awesomely brutal way possible.

That's the football Gods making it right. That's when you know it's just not your day.

Team 133 had it's flaws. Huge talent gaps on the depth chart, young kids playing everywhere. They had an offensive line held together with two good tackles and a mash of interior players never quite ready for prime time, despite the fact they were all seniors. And even though Devin Gardner finished the year the obvious starter at quarterback, it took a Denard injury and a Russell Bellomy flame out to realize it.

The defense was the star of the team. When Michigan had little to no signs of life on offense, it was the defense that kept them in games, whether they deserved to be in them or not. And make no mistake, the defense will only continue to get better as they get older/more experienced.

And maybe that's the bigger narrative here. 2012 was all about gaining experience. Team 133's legacy could very well be defined as preparing Team 134, 135 and so on. At least I hope so. I hope those 5 losses still burn. Losses have become all too commonplace in Ann Arbor in recent years.

2011 was a season of many highs...a season of redemption in many ways. 2012 was the season of harsh realizations. The realization that you can not simply coach your way out of the Rich Rodriguez era of smaller, faster, but ultimately undersized talent. Rich is a good football coach, but he decimated the depth chart for Brady Hoke. We saw the effects of that immediately, with so many young faces on both sides of the ball, especially defense. Expect more of that next year on offense...especially along the line.

In all of Michigan's losses this year, it was painfully obvious that Michigan was out manned in many of the one-on-one matchups. That's where Michigan used to shine, but thanks to a few factors such as recruiting and coaching/scheme changes, Michigan's depth chart has been in a constant state of flux. Since 2007, they've struggled to get their footing. But slowly, it's coming back. Just not this year.

Yes, Team 133 deserved better, but that's not how it works. You don't win simply because you deserve to, or because you feel like it's owed to you. You win when you realize that you're better than the guy across from you, and then you go prove it to him.

Team 134's season starts today.